Monday, June 02, 2014

Everything is everything

Warren Gatland says his squad selection for Wales’ tour of South Africa shows that size isn’t everything.
The Kiwi coach has been renowned for picking big players during his reign, in particular packing his back-line with giants like George North, Jamie Roberts and Alex Cuthbert.
But now he has bucked that trend by selecting the diminutive Matthew Morgan - all 5ft 8ins, 11st 7lbs of him - following the Bristol-bound back’s scene-stealing display in Friday night’s trial match.
And he has also included 5ft 8ins, 12st 10lbs Scarlets winger Jordan Williams, who scored two tries for the Probables in their 55-7 victory at the Liberty Stadium.
“I’ve been criticised in the past for picking big players,” said Gatland.
“But it’s never been about that. It’s always been about picking what we think are the best players.
“Sometimes at the highest level if you are big and you are fast and you are skilful you are probably always going to have the advantage over someone who is a little bit smaller.
“But I thought Matthew Morgan came on in the second half and made a massive impact.
“He was the most dangerous player on the field during that period, so you have got to sit up and take a bit of notice. He was one of the last names added to the squad, but he deserved it and good luck to him.
“He’s definitely got something to offer. He can change a game.
“The beauty about it was he came from nowhere when he came on. I suppose that’s the romance of the trial.
“Someone can produce something, do something and get their name on the touring sheet and I thought that was special about Friday night.
“He was definitely an outside bet, but he came on and lit the place up.
“The way the game opened up a little bit in the second half you saw some of his skills really come to the fore to be able to do what he did to catch the eye. It wasn’t just catching the eye of the coaches and the selectors, but also the crowd as well. They were really getting behind him.”
Morgan, 22, has played the bulk of his rugby at fly-half for the Ospreys, but it was as a replacement full-back that he shone for the Possibles.
“He has played a lot at 10, but maybe full-back gives him a little bit more time and space on the ball,” said Gatland.
“You put someone like that in the team and you’ve got to use his attacking ability and encourage him to bring the ball back.

“You have to exploit the ability he does have when the game breaks up. You know you have to play a bit different if he is involved and try to let him use the skills he has got.
“There are one or two players carrying knocks and that has given him the opportunity.
He has to make the most of it. Go out there and make an impression.”
I'm struggling to find this Matthew Morgan fairy tale as romantic as everyone else, because it was Dan Fish he came on to replace as the Possibles' full back at half time.
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